Leaf is the definition of a go-getter, someone who goes after her dreams and never takes no for an answer. Conquering both realms of music and fashion with her own unique sound, swag, and style, the rising star uses her platform to inspire and motivate — with a relentless passion for female empowerment, equality, and inclusiveness.
At just 25 years old, Leaf has already accomplished what most wish they could in a lifetime. From collaborating with Lil Yachty and Dave East to working with dream brands such as Calvin Klein and Pat McGrath (the latter of whom coined Leaf as her muse), Leaf continues to elevate… and fans can’t help but take a front-row seat.
Most recently, Leaf unveiled her highly-anticipated new single titled “Dummy,” a bad bitch anthem reminding females all around the world to be confident, talk your shit, and never settle. The new release holds fans over as she readies her forthcoming EP, Wet Couture.
Sheen caught up with Leaf in downtown Los Angeles, a few hours before her standout performance at the second annual NBA 2K League All-Star presented by Google Pixel. Read below as we discuss her new song “Dummy,” shooting the visual, New York Fashion Week, beauty go-to’s, the meaning behind her new EP, being bisexual, and more!
How are you liking Los Angeles?
I’m loving LA right now. I don’t always love LA, but this trip is nice. I’m out here for the NBA 2K League All-Star. It’s exciting, I really love gaming so I’m super excited to be part of the NBA 2K experience. It’s going to be very dope.
Are you going to perform “Dummy”?
Yes, I’m definitely performing “Dummy.”
Who or what inspired this song?
People always think it’s someone who inspired it, everybody keeps thinking it’s a diss record. [laughs] I guess I make a lot of diss records. I have “Nada,” which is a diss record too. But it’s not really a diss record, it’s more a talk-your-shit record. Let me talk my shit.
I have a lot of cute nicknames or curse words from New York. “Dummy” is not a curse word, but it’s like bozo. Dummy bozo, we have a lot of those terms. When I made “Dummy,” I wanted to make a song that was like “FNF,” even though that song wasn’t out yet. Fuck n*gga free, dummy: it’s that type of vibe that I was going for but in a New York way.
Were you in the studio super hyped?
I was in the studio with my girl Trae. We were wilding, I was having fun. I wanted to go crazy. [laughs]
Do New Yorkers love the record?
I think so. When they hear the verse like “you a dub, dead, dummy, dork, downgrade junkie, trashbag,” they go crazy for it. To have that long extended amount of time where you could be as New York as you want… [laughs]
Would you ever move out of New York?
I did move out of New York. I lived in LA for a little bit, I lived in Atlanta. But I don’t like anywhere as much as New York. The only place that I like more than New York is Puerto Rico. My grandma lives there.
Has Bobby Shmurda heard it?
I don’t know, hopefully. I wish. Bobby if you heard this song, definitely quote my line in one of your Instagram captions. [laughs]
Best memory from shooting the music video?
The best memory was the rehearsals I did with all my dancers. They’re super cool, it was such a vibe. We actually shot the video in Miami. It was such a vibe rehearsing and shooting in Miami, even though we were faking it like it was in New York. [laughs]
How was New York Fashion Week?
New York Fashion Week was fun, it’s always fun. I walked the runway for GUVANCH, which is a smaller couture brand from New York City right now. That’s super dope, a lot of celebrities wear it. I haven’t walked any of the big designers like Versace or Dior yet. I like to do the smaller couture lines that are going to blow up. In the past, I’ve had connections with Kim Shui. Obviously, there are a lot of cute smaller designers that have gotten really big now. Shoutout to Kim for what she’s done with her collection, she’s amazing.
I like to find those brands before they get to the bigger runways, that’s when it’s their official fashion week. I like to do some of the off-branch ones that people are going to find out about later. That was super exciting. I went to a bunch of runways as usual. Being a model, I am a model at the end of the day, Fashion Week is another work week for me. Fashion Week is like BET weekend or anything else. For people who are not part of fashion, it feels like a vacation. For me, it does not. [laughs]
How do you prepare for something like that?
I’m always prepared. As a model, I have to always stay ready to walk a runway. On the way here, I was getting harassed by my agent like “I need your digitals now!” I’m on an airplane, where am I supposed to take digitals? In the bathroom? [laughs] The lighting is horrible. It is what it is, you always have to stay ready.
How much does fashion play into your art?
Fashion has always been a big part of my music. To me, fashion and music are sisters or synonymous with each other. You can’t have one without another. When I was growing up, I watched a lot of videos, like Kanye. A lot of people inspired me like Pharrell, Missy, and people who have insane fashion in their videos. That was a big reason why I wanted to be an artist in the first place. Kelis as well, she was a huge player in my view of fashion and what fashion looks like in hip-hop.
Having that view as a child growing up and seeing those people, I always thought that fashion was one of the biggest parts of music. I didn’t realize until later that some people have style and some people don’t have style. Some people are more fashion-forward and some people are paying homage to the culture they come from, or the hood they come from. It’s not really about fashion for them, but fashion to me has always been a big part of my music.
What are your beauty go-to’s?
Definitely Pat McGrath, I shoot for her makeup company all the time so she’s a huge influence on my beauty. She’s completely changed my perception of what beauty means, especially being a woman of color.
And she considers you a muse, right?
Yeah, she does consider me her muse, which is huge. Every time I think about it, oh my god. I fangirl for her so much. She knows, I literally call her queen mother. [laughs] She’s such an inspiration. Before I started shooting for her, I really could never match my foundation color. I never knew what foundation to wear for my skin because I have a weird undertone to my skin. I’d be a golden tan, but my undertone is more olive and red.
She was the first foundation that I found, full coverage, that worked for my skin color. Which was amazing and since then, it’s completely changed my makeup game. I used to do my makeup super cakey, but now my makeup is more natural. Being part of her team, and being a muse to her has really helped me with my beauty and skincare. Just knowing how to represent me as a beauty icon in the game.
What can we expect from the “No Freaky” video?
Yes! The video comes out on October 14th. Lots of ass-shaking, wild shit. I was on the FDR, we blocked up the whole FDR with our cars, I’m in a Lamborghini twerking with my socks, it’s fire. Definitely some real New York, crazy, mixy, Friday night shit.
What can we expect from your forthcoming EP, Wet Couture?
Wet Couture is a collection of everything that I stand for. I stand for women’s empowerment so when I say Wet Couture, I’m really talking about luxurious pussy. Wet Couture is also fashion. It’s about wet hot couture, which is a fashion look. You know when you look wet, but you’re actually dry?
That look that Kim did for the Met Gala a couple of years ago, that’s wet couture. But in my own way, the cover’s going to be really fire. I always loved that. I loved the idea of always looking wet, but being dry. [laughs] I want girls to feel sexy when they hear this project, in every type of sexy mood. A boss bitch is sexy, I want them to feel in the bed sexy. Wake up sexy, just feeling sexy.
What else are you excited for?
I’m excited for everything I’m about to put out. I’m really excited for “No Freaky,” and then I have this fire-ass song called “Strut” coming out right afterward. That’s more of a runway song. It’s a Vogue song, a ballroom song. It’s definitely for my community, the LGBTQ community, so I hope they love it.
Are you bisexual?
I’m bisexual, yes. I talked about being bi, but people still don’t know. If you listen to my old projects, I have a million songs about women. [laughs] Yes, I’m bi. Always been bi. My first kiss was with a girl. I’m really excited about the song and I really hope they love it. I just met someone who invited me to be part of their ballroom house, so I’m excited for them to hear this song. I’m excited about their feedback and what it feels like to them.